Falling in Love


At the end of July, my friend from high school, Alvin, visited me and Mark for 10 days. Since both of us had very free schedules, we partook in almost all of the touristy activities that he went on. For me, it really reignited my love for Seoul.

Before I begin, it's important to undertand that almost every foreigner goes through a phase of just being fed up with this culture. I think it commonly hits around the 3-6 month mark, but it comes back in waves, and when it does, all you want to do is punch someone in the face. Perhaps it's the lack of manners, or the freedom in which elders feel like they can scold anyone, or the constant bumping and pushing in crowded spaces, or the fact that no one ever holds a door open for the person behind them. It's just a different culture, and it's not always easy. Especially when you come from America, the land of politeness and manners.

Interestingly enough, I think both Mark and I were experiencing this frustration (which could possibly be because we're hitting the 2-year mark soon) while Alvin was visiting. There were a couple of instances that provided a very clear depiction of Korean culture to our visitor, but caused us to be extremely frustrated. In one instance, we were trying to see one of the old palaces, which closed at 5:30. We got there around 5:20, but the guy wouldn't let us in. He provided no explanation, just that dreaded "X" that they all do with their arms. We were there before the doors closed, so why couldn't he just let us in? "Why do they have to be such sticklers?" I thought.

On a different occasion, the three of us were on a bus and apparently, we pressed the buzzer (which signals to the driver that we want to get off at the next stop) too late. He proceeded to yell at us (yes, actually yell at us), which caused my blood pressure to shoot through the roof, while Mark just kept saying "It's OK" to the driver.

Now, this isn't intended to be a post of my whining...it's simply to illustrate how, at times, it can be highly irritating/frustrating living in a different country, in a completely different culture. BUT Seoul always redeems itself. In the thick of our frustration, as we showed Alvin the city we call "home", I fell in love all over again. Going from high-rises and the cement jungle to a giant river, an old folk town, an artist's village, and a hike around the old fortress that surrounded Seoul back in the day, I was reminded of just how dynamic and exciting this city is. Going from delicious restaurant to delicious restaurant, then to a cafe for an equally delicious dessert, I felt blessed to live in a place that is identified by its vibrant food culture.

...So, here I am, gushing about my city as I was once again lectured by the bus driver this morning and as I sit in a cafe drenched in sweat because of this cursed weather. It's quite lovely if you ask me...